Despite Fundraising Edge, Romney Outgunned on Airwaves

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney arrives at Salt Lake City International Airport during a visit to Utah for a pair of fundraisers Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in Salt Lake City. (National Journal)

Mitt Romney's campaign has taken heat for a series of recent gaffes, but the campaign's bigger blunder may be in its misallocation of campaign resources.

Despite all the well-deserved hype about Romney's superior monthly fundraising tallies throughout the summer, the campaign and its allies are being outspent down the home stretch in many of the key battlegrounds. A Hotline ad tracking analysis showed that last week, Team Obama outspent Team Romney in Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin "“ and in several of those states by significant margins. This isn't an anomaly.

The New York Times reports today that Romney and his allies aren't able to spend some of the money they raised, given that a significant chunk is earmarked for the Republican National Committee and state parties. More of President Obama's donations went directly to his campaign account, giving him more flexibility on when and how he can spend the money. This comes after news that Obama's campaignsignificantly outspent Team Romney on the airwaves during both party conventions, when many politically-attuned voters were watching. The campaign ended up taking out a $20 million loan because most of their remaining funds were strictly earmarked for the general election.

If Romney loses the election, his campaign's tactics will receive a thorough examination, but its appropriation of resources also deserve significant scrutiny. His campaign's fundraising has been impressive, but it doesn't seem to be getting much bang for its buck. One problem came early on, when Obama's campaign spent large sums of money to define Romney negatively, while an underfunded Romney campaign didn't spend money in turn to define his candidacy in a positive light. Romney's negatives quickly rose, and the perception of him as a crude capitalist has stuck, dogging him throughout the race.

Now, at the campaign's most crucial moment, Romney's campaign is being outgunned on the airwaves even as they appear "“ at least on paper "“ to be flush with cash. The disparity has allowed Obama to cement his convention message, and is compounding Romney's already-mighty struggles earning good press the old-fashioned way.

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